6HWbNHN-show-poster2x3-c7tgE2Y.png

Artbound

Start watching
MJ250sC-show-poster2x3-Bflky7i.png

Tending Nature

Start watching
Southland Sessions

Southland Sessions

Start watching
HvlSxHY-show-poster2x3-4ik43uV.png

Earth Focus

Start watching
5LQmQJY-show-poster2x3-MRWBpAK.jpg

Reporter Roundup

Start watching
City Rising

City Rising

Start watching
Lost LA

Lost LA

Start watching
Member
Your donation supports our high-quality, inspiring and commercial-free programming.
Support Icon
Learn about the many ways to support KCET.
Support Icon
Contact our Leadership, Advancement, Membership and Special Events teams.

How Will the Political Landscape Change in California in 2012?

Support Provided By
california-politics-2012

While January 1st marks the beginning of the new calendar year, for many political wonks Friday, December 30th is a date that holds more meaning. That day kicks off the official start of the new election season in California. Hold onto your hats, voters, candidates and observers, it is going to be an uncertain ride.

Politics and elections in California seem to have become sadly predictable. Members of the public feel, in many cases, that donations carry more sway than votes. Incumbents, who are typically well-financed candidates, generally win re-election. Those incumbents then head to Sacramento for another round of a little game I'll call "Capitol Gridlock." Our elected officials bicker, point fingers, and generally do not do much to help their almost comically low approval ratings.

It is a sad state of affairs. A number of reforms are set to take effect next year, and the question is whether those new laws will bring about positive changes.

As I've often written about here, for the first time in the state's history an independent citizens redistricting commission drew legislative lines. In 2008 and 2010, voters approved two ballot measures which took the power to draw district lines out of the hands of incumbents, who quite obviously have a vested interest in how those lines are drawn.

This election season will likely see the first elections held under the new maps. However, I say likely because those maps, like so many other things in California, may not be put to use. The new lines congressional legislative lines are being challenged in federal court as violating the voting rights act. The new state senate lines are being challenged at the ballot box, with a proposed measure seeking to overturn those lines. The purpose of allowing an independent redistricting commission to draw legislative lines is to produce districts drawn to best represent the people, not to give incumbents a chance at re-election.

Another reform that could make at least some difference in California during the next election season is the open primary, top-two election law. This law provides that any voter can vote for any candidate in an "open primary." The two candidates obtaining the greatest number of votes in that primary, regardless of party affiliation, then proceed to a general election. The purpose of this law is to elect more moderate, consensus oriented officials who will reduce the gridlock in Washington.

Many of the Golden State's political reforms have come back to bite us. The latest and greatest example may be term limits, which forces elected officials out of office for no other reason than that they have served in that office for a certain number of years. Most people would agree that in almost every other area, experience is a good thing. I would, for instance, prefer not to be forced to find a new dentist only because mine has been practicing for more than eight years. If elected officials are doing a bad job, they should be voted out of office, not swept out by the mere fact that they've held that post for some period of time.

But I digress. It remains to be seen whether the new legislative districts (if they are ever used) and open primary law will improve the state of affairs in California. Voters should stay active and alert as the election season kicks off this week.

Jessica Levinson writes about the intersection of law and government every Monday. She is a Visiting Professor at Loyola Law School. Find more of her posts here.

Photo by Flickr user prayitno, used under a Creative Commons License.

Support Provided By
Read More
A group of mules lined up and reined together gallop down a commercial street. Spectators watch on the sides of the road and a mountain landscape fills the background.

Y luego hubo dos: Inyo y Merced atrapados en el nivel más estricto

Al no poder cumplir con los criterios estatales de infección por COVID-19, los condados de Merced e Inyo aún no pueden reabrir la mayoría de las empresas. El estatus de los condados amenaza un gran evento del Día de los Caídos en Bishop, por lo que la ciudad ha pedido al estado que reconsidere los requisitos de su condado rural.
A group of mules lined up and reined together gallop down a commercial street. Spectators watch on the sides of the road and a mountain landscape fills the background.

And Then There Were Two: Inyo and Merced Stuck in Strictest Tier

Unable to meet state COVID-19 infection criteria, Merced and Inyo counties still can’t reopen most businesses. The status threatens a big Memorial Day event in Bishop, so the town has asked the state to reconsider its rural county requirements.
Maria Gutierrez teaching LAUSD preschoolers from the virtual classroom she's created in her home.

Preparing to Go Back to Preschool in A Pandemic: 'Fun, but in A Different Way'

With kids under 5 returning to the classroom — some in person for the first time — get ready for Big Feelings from adults and little ones alike.